Tuscola has tight grip on first placeMountaineers defeat Franklin and Smoky Mountain in back-to-back shootouts
It took 160 minutes of regulation, 40 minutes of overtime, a pair of shootouts (PK’s) and one sudden death for the Tuscola varsity girls soccer team to secure its hold on first place in the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference this week.
The Mountaineers won grueling, back-to-back matches at Franklin (4-3 in shootout) and against Smoky Mountain (4-3 shootout).
First place Tuscola improved to 7-0-0 in the WNCAC and 8-5-0 overall. Franklin dropped to 5-2-0 in the conference, 7-4-2 overall, while Smoky Mountain also sunk to 5-2-0 in the conference and 11-2-0 overall). “Tough, hard fought wins,” said Tuscola head Coach Erik Melville. “When it came to the shootouts, I felt that we were in [a good] position, simply because our keeper is so good.”
After a pair of overtime periods, the Mountaineers and Panthers were locked in a scoreless battle.
In the shootout, Tuscola’s Mary Rachel Carter took the first PK, firing the ball past the outstretched arms of Franklin goalkeeper Sidonia Morales into the left side of the net. The Panthers sailed their first shot over the goal.
Jade Monday, like Carter, found the back of the net on the left side of the goal to give Tuscola a 2-0 lead before Franklin a got a shot past Tuscola goalkeeper Sarah Swaim to slice the Mountaineers advantage by a goal, 2-1.
Tuscola’s Kalina Georgeiva put the ball over Morales’ head and into the top of the net for the Mountaineers third goal and Franklin responded with a goal to stay goal behind the Mountaineers, 3-2.
On the fourth round PKs, Tuscola’s Abby West missed her shot and Franklin did not, tying the heated battled at three.
In the fifth round, Tuscola’s Katie Fielden missed her shot, but Swaim was able to force sudden death tied at three when she jumped up and deflected the ball over the goal.
In sudden death. Tuscola’s Madelyn Bates scored to give the Mountaineers a 4-3 lead before Swaim came up with another clutch save to end the match.
Swaim recorded 16 saves and her sixth shutout of the season.
Against Smoky, the aggressive Mustangs took a 1-0 halftime lead before Monday (assisted by Carter) fired a shot from the 18 over Smokey Mountain goalkeeper Lucy Miller’s head tying the match at one early in the second half (42:20).
Just like the night before, Tuscola was forced to settle its differences with an opponent in overtime.
Monday scored just 18 seconds into the first overtime period (80:18) when she sent the ball into the back of the net after receiving a through ball from Carter.
The Mountaineers held that 2-1 lead until the 36 seconds of the OT period (89:24) when Smoky scored to tie the match at two.
The second 10 minute OT remained scoreless sending the game into a shootout.
Tuscola got goals from Carter, Georgeiva, Bates and a match-winning goal from Fielden to beat the Mustangs, 4-3.